Talks the talk: but when
the chips are down (literally)
will he turn to the UK to pay
to keep him in office?

The Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) of the European Union is quintessentially a classic piece of socialism in action. Wealthy Northern European nations with broadly efficient farming sectors pay large net contributions to the EU which in turn distributes a high proportion thereof to nations with small inefficient farms. Result: a huge EU client base is created that will support the EU and the CAP through thick and thin.

Now comes the latest wheeze: The French Protection. The French, during negotiations over the EU Constitution, did their level best to slide in provisions that provided scope for curtailing free trade and instituting or legalizing protectionist measures. They did so because France’s instincts, when faced with genuine competition, are always to look to the ring-fence and not to reform. Thus not inconsiderable chunks of the French economy still rest in the State’s hands and French businesses are carefully protected from being bought out by non-French companies. Mr. Sarkozy may fancy himself as more Anglo-Saxon in his approach to economic matters but when it comes to protecting French business he is just as much a protectionist as the next Frenchman.

Thus we hear of France being at the forefront of a plan, under the guise of ‘improving food security’, to bolster agricultural protectionism. The spectre of ‘food riots’ is held up as the underlying cause of such a move. So, in order to avoid the peasants (that is, you & me) rioting over the availability of bread in the streets of Kettering, Baden-Baden, Colombey-les-deux-églises, Pamplona, Foggia, Wroclaw and so on, a stop will have to be put to the scrapping of farm subsidies and resistance given to further attempts by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to get us to give them up.

Protectionism will not, in the long run, provide food security at all, of course. Instead it will, like everything touched by socialism, provide a cushion of inefficiency to the industry which, far from producing the most food at reasonable prices, will lead to less food at higher prices. But it will enable governments such as that of France to continue to pour money into the pockets of a key constituency which represents a vital block of votes at election time. That, unsurprisingly, is actually what this is all about. And who better to provide this unending electoral bung but the rich nations of the North who long ago turned to efficient farming and the free market as the best means of putting a chicken on the table of every citizen?

What is notable about all this is the way in which we are to be terrorized into accepting this move. By raising the prospect of ‘food riots’, the EuroNabobery hope to strike at primal fears. After all, it is within the living memory of some people in the Netherlands that famine stalked the land – in the winter and spring of 1944-45 when the Germans prevented food supplies from getting those parts of Holland it still occupied. Britain too nearly came close to serious food shortages (the Germans again) and every occupied country of Europe had similar experiences. More recently Communist countries managed to beggar their agricultural sectors such that queues for food were the norm by the time that brand of socialism had run its course.

Not that any food riots have happened anywhere in Europe, mind. There have been some in Egypt; and some in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world where such things might, because the place is run by some seriously incompetent or kleptocratic people, happen even in the best of times. But the mere fact that they have happened somewhere, anywhere, justifies the rattling skeleton of ‘food shortages’ to be paraded once more as a way of saving the CAP from further modification.

Thus France’s agriculture minister feels emboldened to lay the blame for rising food prices at the door of economic liberalism and “too much trust in the free market”:

We must not leave the vital issue of feeding people to the mercy of market laws and international speculation.

Coming, as it does, a short time before the French assume the Presidency of the EU, one should expect this piece of economic stultification to be at the heart of French plans, notwithstanding the EU’s professed belief in market liberalization: “Our policy is to liberate production”, one Eurocrat is said to have opined. We shall see.

France has, of course, the advantage of being Slovenia’s mentor during its current Presidency, so it is well placed to square as many of the smaller members of the EU as possible as to the wisdom of increased protection for EU farmers in advance of its own six months at the helm.

Getting them to imagine a bread riot in Ljubljana or a fish riot in Valencia or a sausage riot in Munich or a beer riot in Kortrijk or a cabbage riot in Krakow is no bad way to pump up enthusiasm for something most British people would love to eliminate at the earliest opportunity (and save some money into the bargain).

An run on an Egyptian Bakery:
coming to a Tesco’s near you!

As the EU is largely a French racket, one knows only too well that the likely outcome is at the least a preservation of the Status Quo and, as French food prices rise because of the strength of the Euro, a growing chorus of voices demanding that something must be done. Ramping up the subsidies is a relatively cheap way for the French to go as it usually falls to the UK, as a net contributor to the EU, to have to fork out to keep French politicians in office.

I can think of no better reason for bringing this particular house down.